National, Front Page

Move to save Buriganga

Published : 10 Sep 2022 10:22 PM

The ‘Buriganga’, once a mighty river, which flows by the Dhaka city and has a great economic importance, is now one of the most polluted and dying rivers in the country.  

River conservationists, environmentalists, rights activists, elected representatives, political leaders and government officials said that the Buriganga must be saved from widespread pollution and encroachment as it is the lifeline of the capital. They vowed to restore the Buriganga River to its former state at all costs. 

“River grabbers ride on the shoulders of whichever government is in power - whether it is Awami League, BNP or Jatiya Party. So, the rivers are being polluted across the country. This is happening on the Buriganga too,” said Advocate Qamrul Islam, MP from Dhaka-2 constituency and presidium member of ruling Awami League. 

Speaking at an event on Saturday (September 10), Advocate Qamrul Islam, also a former food minister, further said they pledge to save the Buriganga and restore the river to its former state. The government is committed to cleaning and de-polluting the river, he added. 

Commenting that the river grabbers remove the border posts of rivers when these are installed, the local MP elected from the Buriganga River area said, “The river grabbers rely on the ruling party and the government. Actually, they have no party. They have unholy alliance. They ride on the shoulder of the government which comes into power. We all need to be aware. We want the Buriganga that we saw in the past which was clear.”

Qamrul Islam said this at the inaugural ceremony of the event ‘Buriganga River Carnival’ held in the Buriganga near Muslimbagh Tower Playground at Thota Gudaraghat area of Kamrangirchar in Dhaka. 

Waterkeepers Bangladesh Consortium and Buriganga River Morcha jointly arranged the event with the aim to draw the attention of policy-makers, government authorities, local elected bodies and common people to save the ‘Buriganga’ river. 

Organisers of the programme said that they organized the river carnival also to raise awareness about pollution of the river and to protest river pollution across the country. 

Advocate Sultana Kamal, adviser to former caretaker government and president of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), presided over the event, while Humayun Kabir, general secretary of Dhaka city south unit of Awami League, Kristin McCrae, director at Office of Democracy of Human Rights and Governance of USAID/Bangladesh, and Md Rokibul Islam Talukder, chief engineer (dredging) at Bangaldesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), attended as special guests. Prof Dr Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, chairman of the Department of Environmental Science at Stamford University Bangladesh, delivered the concluding speech. 

Moderated by Sharif Jamil, lead at Waterkeepers Bangladesh Consortium and also general secretary of BAPA, the programme was attended, among others, by Saidul Islam Madbar, councilor from Ward No. 57 of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), Shefali Begum, DSCC’s councilor from reserved seat for women, Mokaddesh Hossain Jahid, DSCC’s councilor from Ward No. 24, Mohammad Hossain, DSCC’s councilor from Ward No. 56, and Nure Alam Chowdhury, DSCC’s councilor from Ward No. 55. The ward councilors expressed solidarity with the theme of the ‘Buriganga River Carnival’. 

Mainuddin Ahmed, chief of party of Counterpart International, Md Shahidullah, joint director of Dhaka River Port, Md Monir Hossain Chowdhury, environment expert at National River Conservation Commission, and NK Roy, assistant commissioner of police (Lalbagh zone) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, also spoke on the occasion.     

At the end of the inaugural ceremony, a colourful procession was taken out to Buriganga in small and big boats. The ‘Buriganga River Carnival’ took place with a fleet of over 100 decorated boats. The cruising began from Thota Gudaraghat and terminated at the same place after circling up Kholamora Ghat across the Buriganga river. 

It can be mentioned that Waterkeepers Bangladesh is a regional entity of Waterkeeper Alliance. The Waterkeepers Bangladesh formed a consortium with the Department of Geography and Environment of Jahangirnagar University; Department of Environmental Science of Stamford University Bangladesh and Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS). The consortium was formed aiming to implement a robust anti-pollution advocacy project titled ‘Promoting democratic governance and collective advocacy for environmental protection in Dhaka city’ in collaboration with USAID and Counterpart International (CPI). 

Speaking on ‘Buriganga River Carnival’ programme as the guest of honour, Qamrul Islam also said that excavation has started by restoring the original channel of the Buriganga. There will be a 100 feet wide road next to the channel. Because of this, many houses of people will be destroyed. 

Talking about the destruction of canals in Dholaikhal area, the Awami League MP said that Ziaur Rahman started destroying the canals inside the capital and HM Ershad completed it.

He also commented that if water buses are introduced in the rivers around Dhaka, the traffic congestion in the capital will be reduced.